Saturday, 20 December 2008

Stained Glass Poppies

I made a decision a couple of weeks ago to stop reading quilt/art books, watching Simply Quilts (so far I've watched every one from episode 1 to episode 757), and surfing the web, and start making things that have piqued my interest from what I've seen/read.

So, not counting my rust-dyed Ghost Gums and small landscape, I've decided to start creating a series of small works, around A4 size (11 1/2" x 8"), to try interesting techniques.

Here's the first one - Stained Glass Poppies. The pattern came from a "free" website. Originally I was going to do the leaves all in a dark green batik, but they didn't have enough light shining thru, so I've used a little of the dark green, lime green "snail trail", a lovely orange batik, and a piece of rust-dyed fabric for the background. The leading is done using Clover 4mm fusible bias tape, and the border is some hand-dyed cotton.

Most of the sewing is done using clear monofilament thread - I still don't really like this stuff, but I think I've bought cheap and nasty (Birch!), and on a bulk cone, so I found it works better to transfer some to a smaller spool - and what a pain that is! I used a blind-hem stitch on the bias, and a straight stitch to outline the outside area. It's backed with a low-loft polyester batting, adhered with bits of visoflix.

I'm quite pleased with the result, and like the orange of the poppies and the rust-dyed fabric best.

Where Did December go?

Saturday 29 November
"Shore Thing" Stitchers Exhibition, Devonport, Auckland.
Dropped Becca off at Drama class, and David and I went to have a look at this exhibition. Lots of lovely works. They've been going about 12 years, and do a lot of fibre art work, and "fun" quilts.
Then played hookey - collected Becca from Drama class and went to a friends' for a BBQ dinner - much more fun than going home to #1 son.

Monday 1-Tuesday 2 December
Flew to Sydney to meet the President/CEO of the company I work for, was totally blown away when I was given an award; "Hidden Treasures", which included a coin, a certificate, and MONEY to spend on craft stuff (oh GOODY!) - for being a good girl and making things happen! Flew home again.

Friday 5-Sunday 7 December
Got my eyebrows & eyelashes done, flew to Sydney, explored Darling Harbour - pretty lights! Darn, where was the camera? Oh, that's right, we wouldn't be out long! Saturday morning we walked up to Hyde Park, said hi to all the Ibis's, (who were trying to get a burger out of a paper bag), walked down to the Opera House, caught a bus back up to the top of the hill, talked to the security guard outside a Synagogue (finding out later that the Karaoke bar next door had been firebombed the previous night). Walked down to the Queen Victoria Building - beautiful, Titanic-like architecture and decoration - then back to the hotel. Got mini-bused to Rosehill Racecourse at Parramatta for Races and yummy food, then back to Sydney to Helm Bar for more yummy food and alcohol, finally stumbling back to the hotel around 2230 - getting old!

Took 2 hours to get thru check-in at Sydney airport due to lack of staff - arrived 0930 for an 1130 flight, thru the gate at 1115! And then of course the plane was delayed 30 minutes.

Friday 12-Saturday 13 December
"non" Dress rehearsal, and then the real thing for Becca's drama production - she's only been going to class for the last school term. We thought her group's performance of "The Beast" was pretty adventurous, and certainly enjoyable. And yes, I'm her parent, so I'm certainly biased, but it was still pretty good!

"Ghost Story" by Becca

The oaken door slowly opened, and as he cautiously stepped forward the old floor creaked. Justin almost screamed, quickly looked around and shuddered. He was a slim, pale-skinned boy with blue eyes and light brown hair. He was easily scared, especially in the old castle where he lived.

It was a very old building, with maze-like hallways and forgotten, dark rooms. He was in one of them now, trying to make a map of these old and rotting rooms. Justin hated it, but his rich parents had ordered him to, so he had to do it. He flicked on his bright torch and looked around the room. This place was the creepiest room yet! It had an old-fashioned bed with a blood-red canopy, an old wardrobe that looked like it was going to collapse any minute, and a mirror.

The mirror was the scariest thing in the room. It had a dark, rough-edged frame around it that had a little carved bat at the top. He shuddered again. The bat’s eyes were red, as if they were on fire. The surprising thing about this room was that it had a window. That meant he was on one of the outer walls already, and he had only been to about twenty of these rooms so far.

He cautiously went over to the window, the floor creaking with his every step. When he finally reached the stone window frame, he found that it had torn, fire-red curtains, which were blowing into the room. Justin slowly opened the curtains, to look out at the view below. There was now a roaring thunderstorm outside, with lightning ripping apart the sky and thunder crashing through the air. There was also a howling wind, and as Justin looked down he saw he was in a tower three stories up. He quickly looked away, not wanting to look at the terrifying drop below. He backed away from the window. He could now see, in the light from the open window, the amazing tapestries hanging from the walls. He added the creepy room to his map. Then, he bolted out of that terrifying room, and forcefully slammed the oaken door behind him.

As he was walking towards the next door, he thought he heard whispering voices behind him, in the now pitch-black hallway, back by the creepy room with the oaken door. Justin spun around, his bright torch cutting through the darkness.

There was nothing behind him.

He continued to the next door, this one older-looking and made of a strong type of wood. He forced the door aside, and continued into the room. He thought he heard the voices again, and spun around to face the hallway. Once again, there was absolutely nothing there. He shuddered, and turned back into the room. This one looked like a dungeon! There were bare stone walls, not a window in sight, and the only piece of furniture in there was a lump of straw, which may have been used for a bed. It did not look like a very good place to sleep, as the floor was covered in dead moss and other dead weeds. There must have been a window here once, he thought.

He added this room to his map, turned to the door and… stopped. The door was closed. Oh, come on you big scairdy cat! He thought to himself; it must just be a self-closing door! He reached for the iron handle. The door was locked! Justin tried not to scream. He started beating on the door with his fists, crying “help! Help! I’m locked in! HELP!!!!” but it didn’t work. The thick wood of the door absorbed his voice. Besides, there was no one out there to hear him. His parents didn’t come into these forgotten rooms; they had no need to. It looked like he was spending the rest of the night in this dungeon of a room.

He slowly walked over to the straw bed, sat down, and started to cry silently. He must have somehow fallen asleep, because he eventually woke up. He stood up and started to walk to the heavy door to check if it was unlocked, but he clumsily fell over. He slowly got up and dusted himself off. He looked behind him and saw a heavy metal ball attached to his ankle by a chain. Someone must have put it on him during the night. Justin tugged, pulled and heaved at the metal ball, but it wouldn’t budge.

He looked around the room for something that could help get this thing off him, but the room was bare, just the same as last night. Except, just within his reach, was a tray of food. He pulled the tray closer and ate hungrily. The food wasn’t exactly delicious, just some bread and water.

Then he realised he might be a prisoner in this place. He remembered something his dad had told him, when he was younger: “Remember, son, if you are ever trapped in one of these rooms, then you are a prisoner of the ghosts that have haunted this castle since medieval times; they will let you go eventually, but just play along and stay calm until they do.”

So that was what was happening. The ghosts had trapped him in this dungeon, and he was perfectly safe. He slowly fell asleep, knowing he was fine.

The next morning when he woke up, the metal ball was nowhere in sight and the door was wide open. He ran out of the creepy dungeon in that dark hallway in this forgotten part of the old castle, to his nice, warm bed, where he lay down, pulled the covers over his head and tried NOT to think about ghosts.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Becca's Adjectives Story

This story was written by my 9 1/2 year old daughter, for a homework assignment. The ending is brilliant, but totally gutting!

Sam solidly stood at the muddy waters edge eagerly looking out over the calm water. He was about to swiftly run in when he saw a huge figure suddenly rise out of the now roiling water. He couldn’t quite make the figure out because thick mist was coming in from the forest-covered hills.

The figure was covered in dripping lake water. The figure was now slowly looking around. Then he saw it surprisingly go onto all fours, and happily spread out a pair of spine-tipped wings.

He had to have a closer look at this strange creature. He stealthily snuck closer through the thick mist. He eventually got to a place where he could see it, but it couldn’t see him.

He peered over the broad-leafed bush he was cleverly hiding behind and let out a gasp. “Oh my gosh, what is that?” he silently whispered to himself. The creature just across the murky stream from him was amazing! It had glistening grass-green scales, sharp-looking bony horns on top of its head, wicked-looking sharp claws, and two leathery dark green wings. It looked like… no, it couldn’t be, or could it be… a dragon?

And then - this was even more impossible to believe-the supposed dragon actually talked! It said: “ Great, where in the world am I? One minute I’m…” the rest was grumpily mumbled, so Sam couldn’t hear it.

Sam carefully took a step back, ready to quickly run out of there, when he clumsily stepped on a thin twig, which frustratingly snapped. “Uh oh…” Sam said, as the dragon looked around and saw him.

Sam took off from the dirty leaf litter, the dragon closely following behind him. Sam didn’t look back, waiting every second for the fiery breath that was surely going to hit his back sometime. Surprisingly not feeling it, he quickly ran behind a gnarled tree to catch his breath.

After he had, he cautiously looked around the gnarled tree to see if the terrifying dragon was still following him. He heard a growling voice behind him: “hey kid, could I just talk to you for a second?” Sam turned around quickly, replying eagerly, “Ok, what is it you want to… know?” There, behind him, was the dragon!

Sam screamed ear-piercingly and quickly ran away. While he was running, he looked behind him to see if the dragon was following him. Surprisingly, he saw it standing behind the gnarled tree, looking sadly at him. He skidded to a bone-jarring halt. The dragon was slowly turning around and dejectedly staggering away. Sam thought to himself; would he just let the dragon, probably the last one on earth, walk away like that? Of course he would. He should call the council. It was none of his business.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Recent Work

Rust-dyed trees - not finished, but I haven't decided what to do next. Added a bit of nylon stitching for texture.

Kaleidoscope "tablecloth": used a border fabric, following Jinny Beyer's template technique. Purchased the red fabric separately, as the border fabric had only the flowers and light blue stripe. This will be a gift for the Newson's Xmas party.

Heritage Cushion: using the overlocker to sew the ribbons, the frill etc. Like it much better now it's been rusted.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Suddenly it's mid-November. Barack Obama is President Elect of the USofA. The New Zealand elections are nearly over - looking like a National party victory already, and the polls only closed an hour ago.
Don't seem to have done much sewing recently, let alone anything I could call art. I've finished my "heritage cushion", and rust-dyed it. Nearly finished my "tablecloth" for the Newson's christmas swap next weekend.
Kama is cowering on the couch as the last of the Guy Fawkes fireworks go off. Last weekend we went to see a fireworks and laser light show at Waitakere Stadium - very cool.
Joined a Play By Email Mongoose Traveller roleplaying game. My character is a Field Researcher named Shira Akenike - anytime now we're going to find out what the adventure is.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Praise From On High

These are two comments from Beth Wheeler, author of "Altered Photo Artistry", and moderator of the rust-dyeing group I'm a member of:

Hi All! Sue Cottle has a KEWL rust-dyed piece on her blog.
Sue, tell us about it!

Wow, Sue! This is a wonderful explanation. It really illustrates how we absorb techniques and ideas from a variety of sources and put them together in our own work. Well done!

Beth Wheeler
faculty of Quilters Keep Learning

Here's the link to the group:

I'm really rather blown away by this - I feel like I'm crawling up the steps from "wanna be" to "gonna be".

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Ghost Gums

The rust dyed fabric behind the trees is from the mailbox pole. The trees are ghost gums, an import from Australia – they’re very tall, with straight, almost white trunks, and a lace-like leaf structure, right on the end of the branches. These are the two trees that drew me to the area we now live in, and are balanced by two glorious oak trees at the opposite end of our area – Summerland. (A later project!)
I used the technique described by Beth in her rust-dyed, printed fabric technique on The Quilt Show website – that’s what got me interested in all this to start with. I photographed the trees, manipulated them in Paint to get rid of the background, ironed the fabric onto freezer paper (ordered specially via the internet!), and then ran them thru my inkjet printer (HP PSC 1210). The Bubble Jet Set doesn’t arrive for another 2 weeks, so the fabric hasn’t been treated. The trees are thread-painted on using about 4 shades of brown, 2 of beige, and the leaves are about 3 shades of green.
The fence was taken from a "how to draw" book, traced with Glad Press n Seal, then transferred onto the fabric. The three large fenceposts were made using Judy Simmons "Machine Needlelace" technique on Solvy. I used around 6 shades of beige to brown. The "barbed wire" was made using Solvy, and a decorative stitch – sort of a daisy chain, and handsewn to the fenceposts. As you may gather from this, I don’t draw – but I’m really good at cut n paste!
The dry pond fabric is from the wheelbarrow, using a "contour line" image from Gloria Loughman’s book "Luminous Landscapes". The lines are threadpainted on using Mettler Amber variegated thread.
I’ve just bought Beth Wheeler’s "Altered Photo Artistry", so once I get my sewing machine back, I’ll use monofilament thread to create texture, as she suggests. I was originally going to use the rust-dyed thread I made, but this refuses to go thru my sewing machine.
I also want to create some dried grass, and pampas grass (we call it toetoe). I've removed the green "blobs" - they were meant to be grass, but just didn't work.
For a border, I was thinking of using Loughman’s diagonal squares technique, also in rust dyed fabrics.
Now that I have Beth’s book, I have a copy of Adobe PE 5.0, and I think I’m in love. Unfortunately it won’t talk to my laptop, which runs the horrid Vista, but does work on my daughters’ computer.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Mother of Two, and Quilt Art Inspirations

Spent some quality time being mother of two these last 3 days. Saturday and Sunday were spent emptying Becca’s room and restacking it. One and a quarter rubbish bags of "junk", a large box of toys for the school gala, some bits and bobs for Trademe. She now has EMPTY storage containers, and I’ve taken 1 basket off her for my quilting fabric.

Today we went to Quilters’ Dream first. They have a small stock of YLI variegated threads. I chose 3 – "Cafe Romano", coffee & cream; "London Drizzle", light and dark greys; "Teals", shades of teal. They also had a copy of "Altered Photo Artistry" by Beth Wheeler & Lori Marquette. Beth is the moderator of the Yahoo Rust dyeing group I belong to. I feel like a bit of a "wanna be", but then we all have to start somewhere. The book has a trial version of Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0, which I’m looking forward to playing with. I’ve already got some interesting ideas to try out – including using monofilament thread for texture.

Then we went and played Miniputt golf in the pouring rain - two rounds – lots of fun. Becca did very well for a first timer, and Tom (just turned 20 on Saturday) also did OK. Me, I’ve only ever played it once before, WON! Both rounds! Hehehehe. Fish & chips for lunch, then a visit to the grandparents – B&B.

Other recently inspiring input has come from old episodes of Simply Quilts – Machine Needlelace with Judy Simmons, and Nancy Prince’s Thread Painting – very cool. I’ve already made some logs, and next is some plants for my pond edge.

David is dubbing old episodes onto DVD for me, and about 1 in every 10 episodes have something really interesting or inspiring.

I've also discovered the joys of HGTV on-line video clips, and feature pages, which have instructions. Someday I'd like to sign up for The Quilt Show - Alex Anderson & Ricky Timms, but it's $25 USD, so will have to wait.

This is my Ghostgums rust dye print. I think the fence looks a bit wonky, and I'm not sure about my green grassy lumps, made using solvy and the needle lace technique. I think I'm going to remove them - They will live again! I've stitched in a dried pond, so next is to use monofilament to create texture.

The attempts at using my rust dyed cotton thread have not been successful - it won't feed thru the bobbin, or from the top spool, getting jammed each time. I've tried washing and soaking it, but to no avail. I'm going to try rust dyeing some Birch 50wt polyester thread, and see what happens with that. Might just have to use it for hand sewing - ugh!

I have a half day off tomorrow - I've told Becca it's a "stay at home" day, as I'd like to spend the morning sewing, not driving round the countryside in the pouring rain (gale-force north-westerly's are forecast!)

Friday, 26 September 2008

Variegated Thread & Rust-Dyed Project

I've been searching for some variegated thread for my rust-dyeing projects. Our biggest retail store for handicrafts, fabric etc (Spotlight), has about 5 racks of thread, but very little variegated. The Quilt shops are even worse, as they just don’t have the room, and their prices are truly horrific.
So I decided to make my own. I'm really pleased with the rust-dyed white cotton, which is from the collection left by my Grandmother (thanks Vera!). I left it soaking in the pan overnight, in a 50/50 water/vinegar & sprinkle of salt bath, then rinsed it out tonight, dried it, and put it on a spool – unfortunately the dogs dognapped the big spool I’d set aside for it! I also made some black/brown, using bleach on black cotton thread. I just wiped bleach onto the cotton on the spool, left it for about 30 minutes, and rinsed it off in vinegar, water and soap. I didn’t think it had changed much, but the changes were more obvious under natural light than artificial.
I’ve still got more of Gran’s white cotton thread, so I might try actual colour dyeing to see what I can get.

Since there was room in the frying pan, I did some flower patterned beigey cotton fabric too, which has a nice pattern.

I've finally started sewing my first project, just waiting on some Bubble Jet Set, which is in transit from the US to NZ. The ink is coming off on my sewing gloves, but not transferring to the fabric. It will be interesting to see what happens reversing Beth Wheelers’ recommended process. (ie treat the fabric, then print on it!!!) I'm hoping that some of the ink will wash out, but leave some behind to enhance the stitching.

Next rust dyeing project is a T-Shirt. It’s GREY, with a Pegasus on it, and the colour does nothing for me. I want to get some sand, so I can nestle the fabric-wrapped pan in the sand, ensuring maximum contact.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Experiments with Rust Dyeing

We have a lovely old wheelbarrow that’s been rusting out for a couple of years now (that’s why it’s been replaced with a plastic one!). After discussion on the Rust Dyeing group about bashing/mashing leaves, I wondered if fern fronds would show. They're lying in the bottom of the wheelbarrow. They haven’t, but it’s definitely worth another go. The fabric is good old bleached cotton calico. My other thought was to etch a pattern in the metal of the wheelbarrow. I really like the “fossil batik” prints, and would like to achieve something like that.

Once I brought everything inside, washed it, and ironed it dry, I laid it on the floor to take the photos – and of course, no dog can resist fabric laid on the floor. I missed the shot of him showing his “best” aspect – darn digital cameras.

I got my husband to beat one of the rusty frypans found at my girlfriends place fairly flat. I soaked the fine white cotton in 50/50 warm water/white vinegar, with a heavy splash of salt, then wrapped the fabric round the pan, put it in a plastic bag, and weighted it down with crushed shells (taken from the back path). I managed to leave it about 3 days – not really long enough. I’m going to have another go, with a heavier weight calico cotton, scrunch it up, and leave it for longer. Of course, the pan has grown more rust now, so it should make a more interesting pattern next time.

The rusty pole of our mailbox was just crying out to be used. I folded calico in half, and used the same 50/50 solution + salt. I wrapped gladwrap and a plastic bag around it and left it for a whole week! Then I took it off and rotated the fabric to try to stain the other half. I really like the two dark squares, and there’s some interesting curves in it as well. It’s interesting how, on all the fabrics, some of the most interesting patterns are on the edges! Oh well, the girl loves a challenge! Becca helped wrap the fabric, and re-wrap it.

I’m going to do some low water immersion dyeing this weekend – time to work on the harp bag, so will over-dye some of these fabrics to see what effect I get.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

The Week That Was

And what a week it was.

I spent 19 hours in Wellington one day... visiting Hutt Hospital with two colleagues from Australia to look at a special bed called a Therapulse ATP, which is an air mattress in a special frame, for badly injured patients. It’s been “faulty” for a while, and required its valve/motor assembly to be replaced. The damage had been aggravated by heat, vibration, and a lack of regular maintenance. It would have been good if the tools and spare parts, sent via FedEx, had stayed in Wellington, rather than them sending them to Christchurch, and then back to Wellington. Spent some time training the Biomed Tech, and checking the 3 ATS units the hospital has. We got there at 0830, the parts arrived around 1000, and we were gone by 1100. Had an excellent dinner and lunch, and 2 nice flights – I DO LIKE FLYING! It was nice to get home tho.

Thursday morning I started my first rust-dyeing experiment, and with Becca’s help we wrapped vinegar and salt soaked fabric around the rusting pole of our mail box. Temperatures are averaging around 14-15 degrees C, so we’re going to leave it to “cook” for a week before we check it. I joined a Rust Dyeing group on Yahoo earlier in the week, and it looks like fun. Pictures to follow.

Saturday morning was Brother Club at Newsons, which included an Overlocking class – much more fun than the usual “sit and talk” meeting. Now I’ve got a fabric pack that I’m supposed to turn into a white frilly cushion cover – aaaarrrgh – so not my thing – with lace and ribbon and all. And then I thought ..... ooooohhhh – that could look really cool rust-dyed, and then over-dyed with lwi colour. We also got to see all the farmyard fabric challenge packs – it’s amazing what some women have made. One was a Victorian style doll, with net stockings, petticoated dress, bonnet etc; a couple of wall hangings; a barn held up by a tree; a placemat; cushion, cow and wheatie. I now know a lot more about my overlocker than I did before, but I still really only want it for the overlocking.

Saturday afternoon was shopping – groceries, Mitre 10 for STRAWBERRY Plants, garden mix, wire brush and water filters.
Saturday evening was the Weber Brothers Circus – “Shokarn – Acrobats of the Orient”. Very cool – I kept getting sidetracked watching the technical aspects – setting up nets, guy wires, the acrobats locking themselves into ribbons before swinging themselves around the ring. DB originally didn’t want to come, but in the end we all enjoyed ourselves very much.
Sunday – Hooray – I now have a six-plant Strawberry garden (planted in the garden mix in the Magik Garden), the worm farms’ tomato plants are in the waka, and the lavender plants are spread thru the other gardens. Nearly lost my pansy collection that was growing in pots – didn’t realise how dry they’d got, but they seem to be recovering.

DB has bashed one of the rusty frypans into submission – it’s as flat as it’s gonna get – and it’s now soaking in a salt/vinegar/water solution in a plastic bag, in a wheelbarrow in the garden, with a crushed dog food can. Rust on, my little petal, and you and I will dye together!

Also done the bathrooms, toilets, 2 loads of washing, gone to Mitre 10 for Slug & Snail bait – Quash Iron Cholate pellets, Spotlight for fabric, cleaned the fish tank, cooked dinner. Darn – didn’t do any baking!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Double Wedding Ring Quiltlet

Kama is supervising the layout of the double wedding ring quiltlet. It's a lot bigger than I thought it would be. I'm missing 1 arc, and I have to stick red ends on 4 (trimmed the wrong end!), and work out the joining squares. Looks pretty cool tho!

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Bill Bailey

DB & I have just got home from seeing Bill Bailey, live, at his first Auckland show. Thank you so much for the tickets Caroline – and I’m so sorry you had a migraine and had to miss him!
Bill is a very funny man, with a surprising repertoire. His material covered Charles Darwin, CERN’s particle accelerator, “I ain’t gonna be your bitch!” for the ADSO supermarket chain, recently bought out by Walmart, and a very weird skit where he argued with multiple versions of himself on a big screen. The performance was a little erratic – he spent nearly the first 10 minutes introducing himself over and over again.
He seems to be an accomplished musician, taking the piss out of various singers/songs, including Elton John (ElJo). He played keyboard – wonderful piss-take on the Star Wars theme, and told us about the Council of Trent and Satanistic music – ok, you’re really strange! He also played acoustic and electric guitar, and a “bazouki” style stringed instrument.
I really enjoyed his two hour performance, and David, who hadn’t wanted to go, also enjoyed himself. A really good night out. Darn. Work tomorrow.

Sunday, 24 August 2008


And it rained and rained and rained. And West Auckland turned into a floody place, of which Eyore would be proud. DB and I took the dogs for a walk this afternoon, during one of the “fine” spells (using that word in its loosest term), to find that the bush walk along the Oponuku Stream was under a couple of metres of water. We crossed the road bridge, and went down the concrete path, gazing in amazement at the water, which is usually 2-3 metres (at least) below the level of the path. An oxbow lake had formed, and overflowed in places across the path. We made it as far as where the path construction ends, and then the rain returned. With thunder. And a large black dog trying to hide under our legs as we walked back through the torrential rain. Why is the big black dog scared of thunder, when the scaredy yellow dog just goes off frolicking in the water and chasing ducks – NO DON’T GO SWIMMING IN THE FLOODED CREEK YOU STUPID DOG!

It was a nice walk – I had a silly grin on my face the whole way, just enjoying ALL THAT WATER! It would be really neat to take my kayak down that flood – but I’d need to get a buoyancy aid on first!
The Waipareira Trust houses upstream of the bridge had flooding right into their basements – that’s what happens when you build on a flood plain! It even made the TV News – famous in West Auckland!

Bathed the dogs, and they’ve spent the rest of the evening asleep – all worn out, hooray!

Wedding Ring Quilt: Spent the afternoon sewing the arcs – after a couple of false starts working out the right angles – 5 degrees, not 10 or 15 (coz you’ve gotta halve it!) I now have 35 finished arcs – once you get started they’re really quick to make – but took a whole bobbin of thread. Might have to give in and get the bobbin winder fixed, coz it gets the speedwobbles since I broke it.

Arrgh – next decision is the background fabric – oh no, (shushhhh!) a trip to Spotlight may be required!

Lady in the Water: watched this 2006 movie from M Night Shyamalan while I sewed. AAAAARRRRRGGGHHHH. Hand me a blunt knife please, and put me out of my misery. 49 minutes before anything happened. 1 hour before I stopped sewing and sat and watched the action. About another 40 minutes and then it was over – hooray. Watched the “extras” – well, that took another hour, and I sewed the whole time. I think it was an “art movie”, and I’m just not appreciative enough. I should have gone with Beowulf instead – but then I wouldn’t have got any sewing done!

Right fred, it's off to bed, coz suddenly it's 1130!

Saturday, 23 August 2008

I've finally finished the "challenge" pack of farmyard, khaki fabrics. The baggie has come out ok, and I’ve put straps on it. There were so many things I wanted to try, but being limited to only using the fabrics in the pack, plus 2 others, I couldn’t do anything. My two extra colours were the green background, and the blue water - and I didn't have any more of the blue. I’m glad it’s now finished, so I can play with fun stuff.

DB’s done me dubs of the first 3 series of Simply Quilts (1995, 1996, 1997), which has given all sorts of things I want to try. (It’s great having a husband that works at a TV station) An episode from Series 2 has a couple of segments with a guy called John Flynn, on how to strip piece a double-wedding-ring quilt. Unfortunately it doesn’t have all the instructions, so I’ve had to do a little bit of googling for more information. I’m going to make a 3 ½ block cover for the head of our bed. It’s been fun working out how much fabric I need, how to piece it, and making the darts.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Kitset Harp & quilting

Well, you live and learn. The tuning pin holes were the right size, and didn’t need redrilling. I’ve had to stuff all the holes with raffia and flax so the strings don’t unwind as you watch them. The harp is all strung now, and I’ve even played some music on it. I still have to re-stuff the low C and D holes, and perhaps a couple more, but basically it’s done.
It has a completely different sound to the hire harp, which is about 1 year old. I think as the strings stretch and the timber settles, the tone will mellow, but I can see I’m going to get REALLY, REALLY good at tuning it.
Quilting: OMG I’ve actually done some quilting. I made up the Brother club BOM, done some more work on the Mermaid, and looked at the Challenge bag. The BOM colours are not my favourites – except the blue.
Waitakere Dam: I took the dogs (Tara, Kama and Mac – Wendy’s Schnauzer) up to the Waitakere Dam on Sunday. The dam is overflowing the spillway, and the waterfall is coming out at least 2 metres from the rock wall. So much water! And it was raining, and raining, and raining. We all got totally soaked. But it was nice to get out into the fresh air, with no other people around. Didn't take the camera - too bloody wet.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Harp Kitset

Hooray - it's stained, polyurthaned (2 coats), and has a layer of beeswax and lanolin - pretty pretty, shiny shiny. All the pins are in - just had to redrill all the holes (thank you David), as they were a fraction too small. A bit disapointed to find that where the pillar and soundbox join there's a big gap, that will require staining, painting and poly. Now I have to work out how to tie the blasted strings - at the moment they're winning, and I keep getting the short end to pull tight, rather than the long end. Will provide hours of entertainment. Who's a clever girl then?

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Mermaid Class & Kitset Harp

Went to the Mermaid Quilt Class at JilliaNZ this morning. Still don’t feel like I’m getting my money’s worth, but I did at least get some sewing done this time. It’s starting to come together, but my sewing machine was misbehaving on both the black and white bobbin thread. Once I wound top thread on the bobbin it worked better. I think it may be service time! Stopped in at Spotlight on the way home to get some more thread. 3 paystations – 2 in the fabric areas, 1 at the door – all with at least 5 customers. Crap service as usual, with not enough staff. I want to try to do some more sewing on this tomorrow.

Kitset Harp: Spent the afternoon playing with my harp. Got out my new, dinky belt sander and loaded it up with 180 grit paper. It’s made of multiple layers of plywood, with a “birch” facing, and pine framing on the soundboard. Worked on the edges to round them off. Then Becca and I went to Mitre 10 and bought Wattyl Wood Gel “Mulberry” woodstain, and Wattyl Estapol Satin Polyurethane. The gel spread really well with just a foam speedbrush, but boy oh boy, was it RED! GLOW IN THE DARK RED! Got some of my husbands’ black acrylic paint, diluted it to a grey puddle with water, and rubbed it onto the wood with a soft, lint-free cloth. This took the red right down, and gave it an “aged” patina. I gave it 1 coating of polyurethane, and now it’s stinking out my craftroom. But at least I’ve started it. I’ll be able to give it a second coating tomorrow, and maybe string it during the week – Oh WOW! The pictures show the soundbox hanging from the light fitting, and the pillar sitting on a large sheet of MDF. Might need more black before the second coating of Poly.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Kitset Harp, Plan D

Just sand it down, stain it and put it together - stop pissing around!

Monday, 4 August 2008

Kitset Harp

I’m on to Plan C for my harp. My idea of using .08ml plywood to make a lizard to attach to the side won’t work – the wood is too brittle and coarse, and turns into splinters. My next thought is to use pine – or if I can get it, a piece of something like oak, about 1cm thick, and actually carve the lizard into it, and then glue it to the harp.

Becca's Fairy Quilt

I purchased this pattern at Quilt Waikato at the end of June, (plus one for purple batik which I haven't started yet), but ran out of thread, and had to buy some more. The satin stitch on the raw edges is finished. I was hoping I'd learn some useful techniques with the Mermaid quilt before I started the freemotion quilting on this. It can wait.

Quilt Projects

Saturday 26 July & Saturday 2 August - Mermaid Quilt Class at Jillianz Quilt Shop, New Lynn

This is a fusible applique quilt run by a lady named Ku. Class 1 was tracing the pattern, cutting out the pieces, and if time allowed, fusing them to the fabric. I spent Saturday afternoon cutting out the remaining pieces and and fusing them. I bought a teflon-coated glass-fibre ironing sheet, which is really great for the construction work.

Class 2 was very disappointing - I was expecting to learn some new techniques. However only 2 of the other 6 women had actually put the pieces onto the backing fabric, so Ku spent most of the class explaining in words of less than 1 syllable how to construct the mermaid. There are two more classes to go, so hopefully I'll learn something yet.

My sewing machine had fallen over in the back of the car, and the bobbin-winder had broken off, so once I ran out of thread, I was ready to go home. The only technique demonstrated was free motion quilting with a darning foot, which I already know how to do.

David has fixed the bobbin winder for the moment.

One of the worrying things about this quilt is that it's a direct copy from a picture of stained glass mermaid from a book, so I suspect it's breaking copyright.

Challenge Pack from Newsons
This finally seems to be progressing. It's still not wonderful, but having seen Wendy's cool knitting basket, I feel a little more inspired. This is what the pack contained:

And this is what I've done so far:

Next step is the "back" side, which will have a tree, maybe a barn, washing line ....

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Another Weekend Gone


Wendy, Tanner, Ayla, Becca and I went to Crafts Out West at the Waitakere Stadium, with profits to West Auckland Hospice. We got there early, thank goodness, and had a chance to have a look around most of the stalls before the mob arrived. The children got to open 2 of the baskets containing white doves. The doves flew up into the air, and went around in circles for about 5 minutes before they took off.

Just for a change, it was a craft fair with lots of craft stalls, instead of mostly food and junk. I bought Becca a pattern and fabric for a wee dragon, a pattern for a quilt carry/sewing/holdall bag. Becca bought herself a green creature called Greg - I'm not sure if it's a dog or a cat!

I took the kids home for a play-time, while Wendy cleaned her fish tank, and I cleaned mine. Then I took all the kids up to Wendy's and abandoned Becca. Spent 1 1/2 hours at Quilters Dream, Westgate, spent $86 and got 10 fat 1/8ths for the Mermaid Quilt class I'm doing next weekend.


Started on the challenge pack - it's going to be a tote bag, with the house, a pond, flying geese patchwork and .....

Took the dogs for a walk - in between the torrential rainshowers, in the sunshine with blue sky. 2 loads of washing.

Baked some scones.

Went to the Harp Gathering at Robyn Sutherlands' place - 6 learner harpists, Robyn, and her friend who's been playing for 8 years. Damn that house is freezing cold - lovely to look at, 1940's brick and tile sprawling bungalow, but no insulation.

We managed to play a number of songs together, and sounded quite professional. Lots of fun, and would be good to do it again.

David came and took Becca home around 3.30, and I was home by 5.00. Put dinner on, helped Becca finish her "Interview with Rincewind", did some more work on the baggie, had dinner, folded washing, watched tele, now blogging. Almost time for bed.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Walkies & Manuals

11.00pm at night, and time to take the doggies for a walk. It's an almost full moon, with a ring around her, and one star beside her. There's very high, hazy cloud tonight, and it's kept the warmth in - it's only about 17degC outside. The ground was squishing underfoot, the catchment pond is full up, and there's a waterfall in the drain that fills the pond. David and I walked Tara & Kama along the stream boardwalk - it's much colder down there, and the boards are very slippery.
Digital camera's don't take a very good picture of distant objects, but it's still pretty!

The dog's enjoyed the walk, but as usual did a disappearing act, off to find their favourite supplies of cat shit. When Tara did come back, she gave a hearty burp of satisfaction. Disgusting dog!

Well, I've finally given in, and am reading the User Manual that came with my nice, flash car. It came up with TRC/VSC on the display again, when I planted boot coming up a slope into a round-about. According to the book this is the Traction Control system -oooohhh! - and is meant to stop the front wheels spinning on a slippery road surface. And VSC is vehicle stability Control. In other words, don't hoon thru round-abouts when the road is wet and slippery - which takes all the fun out of driving a red car - coz they're meant to go fast.
It's midnight and time for bed - no more time to read any more blogs tonite - I'm systematically going thru Deirdre's Sloppy Studio, checking all the links - some are cool, others don't do anything for me.

Sunday, 13 July 2008


What an incredibly beautiful, glorious day it's been today! Clear blue sky, a high of about 17degC, and beautiful sunshine. I love Auckland in mid-winter - especially on days like today when it forgets to be winter.

Went up to the Waitakere Ranges this morning to tend my trap line. Idiots have been at work, with the first 2 traps missing completely, trap 3 sprung with a beer bottle, and traps 4, 5, 6 also sprung. Traps 12 and 13 both had dead rats - one dating from around 22 June (yuk - not much left of that one), and one within the last 24 hours - still blood on the kill-plate, and rigor mortis.

The dogs love running down the hill at top speed, racing me on my pushbike, and then the slow walk back up from the dam to the top of the ridge.
Disguised all the traps with ferns and stuff to stop nasty Homo Sapiens from messing with them. We've had 2 Hihi mistake them for nestboxes, which was the original reason for the disguise, but I think H.S. are more of a menace!
Came home and did more tidying in my craftroom - order is starting to rise from the chaos - labelmakers rock!
Wine, Whine, Wine
Transferred my Persimmon wine from the 30-odd litre barrel to demijohns - whew - just the smell of the alcohol content could knock you over. Filled one up too high, and once the pressure built up, it blew out through the airlock - messy!
The Rice & Raisin has stopped fermenting, and gone out to the cold garage, but the 2 DJ's of mead are still going.
Sewing Class at Newson's yesterday, with another new block, and a whole heap of techniques we're supposed to learn before we get our next "challenge pack".
Talking of challenge packs, I'm starting to veer towards either a carry bag, or maybe something like a rubbish bin cover.
Wendy & I visited Jillianz Patchwork & Quilting centre afterwards - they've got a Nolting Long Arm Quilting machine, that uses a pantograph and a red laser light to read the pattern, while Jill drives the machine by hand - very impressive.
They had a really cool "Farmyard" quilt they were free-motion quilting - that gave me a few ideas for the bloody challenge.
I've signed up for a Mermaid Quilt class - hopefully I can source most of the fabrics from my stash, and not have to buy too many. Ku, the lady running the class, has a beautiful "Maori Legends" series of quilts, and this class teaches the techniques she uses in them.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

I've got my craftroom back!

For the last 7 months my son has been in my craftroom, while the German homestay has been in the spare bedroom. Except for a two week period when Julien was away, and I had a splurge, my crafting has been very sparodic, and not terribly satisfying. This is what it looks like without the bed, and before tidying.

I've got tomorrow morning off to look after Becca, so I'm going to clean, tidy, spray n wipe, burn incense, rearrange furniture, and dismantle and rebuild my altars - after all, they still think it's Christmas and summer still! - and generally get rid of the smell. (oh, and be at work by 1300).

And now I do believe there is a God/Goddess. All the way along the 50km I had a guy in a Ford trying to drive up my tailpipe, and once we got to the motorway, he drove around me on the on-ramp, and took off, probably reaching around 130k by the top of the ridge. There was I thinking ... and where's a cop when you want one? And on the other side of the ridge - there he was - a cop with a speed camera! Mr Ford braked too late, the cop took off after him and stopped him. HOOORAY. I believe, I believe!

Tuesday, 8 July 2008


My Design Wall. About 4 "works in progress". A sunflower, 3 crazy quilt blocks that will become a cover for the headboard of our bed, a spiral that will be incorporated in something one day and was a lot of fun to make; my first mini-landscape, that's still being added to as inspiration bites, and miscellaneous bits that will become part of something else.

This is my second mini-landscape - thanks Valerie Hearder and "Points of view". I've used this as the front piece of a folder cover. I had lots of fun fussy-cutting the plants and rocks for this, and like the way it's coming out of the frame.

And quilt blocks from Newsons classes.


For the past year, we've had a German homestay student staying with us. Julien Tenardi became a huge part of our lives, and over the 12 months he was here, we watched him change from a quiet, shy boy, suffering culture shock and jet lag, to a confident, outgoing young man, with an excellent grasp of colloquial English (and that's saying something!). I made this Scrapbook from a kitset that contained most of the paper and embellishments, adding some extra touches.

Clockwise: Julien, caving at Waipu;the Billi-ottle family with Julien and Cornelia; Waitakere valley from the Waitakere Dam, Sue, Becca & David, with Kama and Tara, standing in front of a Kauri; Paintball and Auckland's Skytower.